On Amélie

by jenniferbalboa


It would be an understatement to say that I have been partly raised by movies.

If that is to my detriment, I am not sure. I am certain, though, that every moment I spent in the good films I chose to see since my youth, were moments of joy.

Okay, maybe “joy” would be a bit of overshooting it. Let’s say cheers. Cheers. Fair enough.

Besides, nothing would compare to the joy of actual human interaction. Who does not want that? I know I do, especially at my age now. But I am not forgetting that every film that brought me joy (or cheer, or bliss, or ecstasy, whatever — all of them that made me smirk or smile or laugh) is the handiwork of men, real live actual men, who poured bits and pieces of themselves into the image-plays laid before me.

And if it’s a real good one, it’s like being branded for life. You do not forget. What those unknown real live actual men surrendered to me stays with me.

Like Amelie. Well, actually, that ought to really stay with me because I saw it seven times, in the theatres. Now, with a DVD copy of it, I still pop it in the player every once in a while. And the music is something I listen to almost every day.

Either I’m just real loopy or I haven’t had enough of it. Or both?

Amelie, I believe, speaks of an important lesson. And until I can do away without being reminded of that lesson, I’ll keep watching and watching it, over and over, as long as I feel like it.

* * *

When I first saw Amelie, me with my twisted stand on love thought the film spoke about daring, especially when it comes to love. I even thought my foolishness then was sort of redeemed by the protagonist’s “stratagems”, as she called them.

Of course I was wrong, but I didn’t know, until I came across some broadsheet article on it.

I’m not sure if it was the Star. I can’t remember what my old boss back in the courthouse bought – it was his paper. Maybe it was the Star, that type was used by the Star…

Anyway, it was certainly a broadsheet. And the article was a contribution by some reader for this series of movie reviews that the newspaper was collecting from the readers. The contributor that issue wrote about Amelie.

The writer said that he (or was it a she?) finds the imagery of ripples central in the film. Remember how Amelie loved to skip stones on the waters? And how she’d do it almost every time before she’s about to do something good? She did that, right?

Anyway, that’s what the writer said – that the movie is some sort of metaphor for how goodness can cause ripples in the lives of others. How the goodness we do can transforms the lives of others, and how eventually, we are transformed ourselves as better people.

So where does the love thing figure?

Actually, the reviewer did not say anything about it. He/she just spoke about being good and doing good, as exemplified by Amelie.

The writer did not touch on how Amelie found love. Because that’s not what it is about. Or all about at least. I think.

Amelie simply decided that she’ll do good to the people in her life, and she did. In the end, she had to go back inward, and be good to herself – in her case, by facing up to a man who shared her feelings.

When I read that review, which was actually already a couple of years at least since the film was shown, I thought, “so maybe that’s it, just be good to people, and love will follow – it did for Amelie”.

Of course that’s stupid. That’s not it at all.

Now I guess it’s more like, “just be good, be good to people, and to yourself, make a difference, and that will do”. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

I guess that one’s the nearest one. Right? I don’t really know.

This soundtrack is really good…

And how, between 00:59 and 1:00, the violins pause, as if to take a deep breath, a heave, before their progression into heightening notes that would take them to the waltz’s aria.


Maybe it’s wrong for me to think that the poor little film is carrying a life-altering message, and a message for me at that, especially when it doesn’t. Of course, it was not even made for me, I know, I mean who the hell am I?

I’m just one of them faces in the dark, like in the theatre crowd that Amelie looked back on in the film – awe-struck when this gift of a film first came out, and was surrendered by its makers to us. Awe-struck to this day.

Awe-struck to this day to the beautiful, giving, cheerful Amelie.

I’m betting that I’ll have another reading of the film, say, two to three years from now.

Hopefully I’ve done more than enough good by that time, more than enough of making a difference, and not care about the icing anymore, too.

* * *

Apologies for this. How dare me. I know one should never dare touch a myth.

But the thing is, I am about to encounter another one tomorrow. Through a certain Carol in the wild. And I have a feeling I’d be giving it the same Amelie vigil. So I thought of doing this first, sort of a personal tribute.

Je t’aime, Amelie! Thank you for never failing to give me cheers.